Words & Stuff

TTT: Fish, Heads

(8 October 2000, belatedly)

A vaguely connected miscellany. First, some new entries in the title chain game:

Dark City of Angels in America in the Outfield of What Dreams May Come
Attack of the Killer Fried Green Tomatoes
—Mya, Beth, and PJ
Dirty Dancing With Wolves
—Alex
Jesus Christ Superstarman of La Manchurian Candidate with an Angel Heart of Darkness at Noon
—Bhadrika
Return to the Blair Witch Mountain Project

Now a chain of phrases:

time out
outfield
field day
day tripper
tripping the light fantastic
lights out
out of bounds
bound and gagged
gag me with a spoon
spoon-feed
feeding time....

Players alternate; no repeating allowed. (I believe that series is due to Bhadrika.) You can also leave out the repeated bits: each player just adds a new word, where each adjacent pair of words has to form a recognized phrase (or sometimes a compound word):

common cold cut back street wise crack pot sticker shock treatment

(For those from regions where the term isn't used, in these parts a "pot sticker" is an item of Chinese food, so called because they stick to the pot when cooked. They have a variety of other names in other areas of the US. I have no idea what they'd be called in any part of China.)

Along similar lines, there was a theatre warmup I heard in high school that involved saying a series of phrases, in a variety of ways. I'm not sure what the significance of the phrases was, but it was always the same phrases in the same order: too hot, hot potato, potato pancake, pancake platter, platter clatter.

If you're really bored, you can leave out the requirement for a common phrase as such, and just free-associate a related word, with the further rule that for each new word you have to change the sense in which the last word was used (or pun on it):

phone booth Lincoln Cougar cheetah poker gridiron goal check rain sun father priest Judas goat calf leg toe truck tire rest all none habit speed fast eat....

Moving right along, here are some new marquee juxtapositions:

Hitchcock
Rope
Frenzy

One Fine Day
Mars Attacks
The Preacher's Wife
(from rec.humor.funny)

Men in Black
Contact
Batman & Robin
(from a theatre in Santa Cruz—or at least the second and third were; the first may've been added later)

The Emperor & the Assassin
Now Hiring
(Park Theatre, Menlo Park, 2/17/00)

Woman on Top
What Lies Beneath
(Boston, 9/29/00)

What Lies Beneath
Space Cowboys
(somewhere in the Bay Area)

If you get tired of real-life marquees, you can make up double features:

Is Paris Burning? / Paris Is Burning

Clue / Clueless / Without a Clue

Jaws / A Farewell to Arms
—Jim

Dead Again / You Only Live Twice
—Bruce Chadwick

Juxtapositions are not limited to movies. I once saw these two books sitting next to each other on a shelf at a kids' bookstore:

Where Do Babies Come From?
The Soles of Your Feet

Tom Parker, by way of Lesley Tsina, suggests some movies for people double majoring in Marine Biology and Film:

Sleeping with Anemones
Lorenzo's Eel
Silence of the Clams
The Cabinet of Dr. Calamari

My suggestions along the same lines:

Finnygan’s Hake
The Island of Dr. Moray
Tuna in Tomorrow
The Stingray
Straight to Halibut
Salmon and Rosie Get Laid
Catfish on a Hot Tin Roof
Oh, Cod!

And that's not even considering the films that already have fish titles, from Jaws to Day of the Dolphin to Go Fish to Octopussy....

I hear that Mary Ann Madden has retired, after umpteen years running weekly New York Magazine competitions. I never did write to ask for permission to reprint some of the lovely competition results published in hard-to-find books like Maybe He's Dead and Thank You for the Giant Sea Tortoise. But here's what I would've entered in one of her contests had I been around for it. Her version was to come up with a common phrase or title or person's name and either change or remove one letter for comic effect. My version's a little stricter: remove a single letter from a book or movie or poem title.

Midnight in the Garden of Goo and Evil
The Holy Bile
The Brides of Madison County
He-Wizard of Oz
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Wizard.
Lice in Wonderland
[It turns out several entrants in the Madden contests came up with that, but I think I thought of it independently.]
The English Patent
In which a software company acquires a patent on the English language despite all attempts by others to prove prior art.
The Princess Brie
The Love Son of J. Alfred Prufrock
A Wrinkle in Tim
The Hose at Pooh Corner
Watership Dow
A bunch of rabbits play the stock market. Also the next book in the series, Watership Don, in which Hazel wakes up to find a severed mouse head on the bed next to him.
The Rave
"Once upon a midnight dreary, as I stumbled weak and weary
Over many a drugged delirious dancer passed out on the floor..."
The Marian Chronicles and The Martin Chronicles
Our Quartets
A musical memoir by T. S. Liot, author of The Waste Lad and the diet book The Hollow Me.
One With the Wind
A Zen manual.

Then there's The Tragedy of Hamet, Prince of Denmark—clearly that's a typo for either Mamet or Hammett, but I'm not sure which. It's probably a hard-boiled detective novel about a guy who drinks too much and says "fuck" a lot while trying to determine whether his uncle killed his father....

Finally, I realize that some of you may be reading this column instead of doing important work on your theses. If you're in the sciences, you may want to take a look at this thesis title generator. Good luck.


Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>